By John Hernandez
Copper Area News
A ghost town is defined as a town or city that has been abandoned due to a natural or human made disaster or economic viability. In the western United States there are many mining boom towns that were abandoned after the mines or smelters closed down. There are a number of ghost towns along the Copper Corridor area. Many of them were once promising mining camps whose population left when the ore bodies played out. Some of these ghost towns were American Flag, Tiger, Copper Creek, Alma, Troy, Cochran, Ray-Sonora, Barcelona, Queen, Silver King, Pinal, Reymert and Denoon.
Some of the boom towns in Arizona that became ghost towns such as Jerome, Bisbee and Tombstone have made a come back and are now viable communities once again, thanks to the tourism industry. Part of their tourism success has been due to alleged sightings of ghosts or buildings which claim to be haunted. There are actual “ghost tours” promoted for all three of these tourist towns. Along the Copper Corridor there are a few tales of ghosts and hauntings that have appeared in books and on the internet. A few of these stories follow:
RATTLESNAKE CANYON – DUDLEYVILLE
There is a story on the internet that talks about this canyon near Dudleyville where it is alleged that a man named “Lepsy” would hire immigrant Chinese workers to work on his ranch. Instead of paying them, he murdered them and burnt their bodies. He would then hire new workers and do the same to them. It was also said that lawmen that went in the canyon looking for Lepsy also met the same fate as the Chinese. Hikers in the area today are reported to have smelled charred flesh, become ill and heard the sounds of screaming.
Another version of the story says the area was near the reservation by Dudleyville and Lepsy hired Chinese and other minority workers. When you hike through the canyon, you will see charred rock walls, smell a sickening aroma, feel horrible frightening energies and hear screaming. The murders took place in the 1800s.
From the Hayden-Winkelman School District comes two stories involving students. There are claims of a ghost that can be seen on the Hayden High School football field. It seems that a football player was running with the football when he was tackled viciously. He ended up breaking his neck and later died. On some nights the football player has been seen running down the field. He falls and then disappears.
The other story involves a high school cheerleader who after graduating had a promising future. The incident took place in 1988 or 1989. One version says she was offered a job as cheerleader for the Arizona Cardinals. Another version has her being offered a college scholarship for cheerleading. One night she was arrested for possession of marijuana. During the arrest she was allowed to go back to her car where she retrieved a gun from the glove compartment and being despondent over being arrested which she felt ended her cheerleading dreams, shot herself.
Stories say that late at night, someone can be heard on the gym floor doing cheerleading routines. One story about a sighting in 1998 says that Hayden High School hosted a softball tournament. One of the teams spent the night in the gym. Around midnight they saw a young lady in a cheerleading outfit at the other end of the gym doing a cheerleading routine. As soon as the routine was finished, she disappeared into thin air.
There are two ghost stories involving the town of San Manuel circulating on the internet. One is the story of a young boy that has been reportedly seen at First Avenue Elementary School. The boy is seen holding his head and says “Teacher! Teacher! I fell off the merry-go-round.” He then disappears. The story alleges that in 1989 a young kid got stuck between the ground and the bottom of the merry-go-round crushing him. Supposedly as he was being carried away by ambulance, he whispered “Teacher! Teacher! I fell off the merry-go-round,” before dying.
The second story involves the spirit of a young girl seen wandering the halls by the lockers of San Manuel High School. She was a student at San Manuel and had been shot and killed at the school. I had heard this story back in the late 1960s from students at San Manuel. There is some basis to this story as in 1956, a female student was sitting on the steps of the school with other students and some teachers in the area near the present day cafeteria, when she was shot and killed. Apparently some boys were playing with a .22 rifle in the parking lot when the gun went off and the bullet struck the girl.
THE ACADIA RANCH MUSEUM
The Acadia Ranch building was built in 1882 and now houses a museum operated by the Oracle Historical Society. It was once a working sheep ranch and then became a sanatorium for patients suffering from tuberculosis (TB) as well as a health resort. The fresh air and climate of Oracle was considered to be healthy. It is believed that a number of TB patients may have died in the building. There is a story of a nurse that is said to have contracted TB while working at the Acadia. She died there and her spirit supposedly walks the building tending to patients.
A website story reports that a ghost does not like anything hanging on the north wall of the main room. There were paintings hanging on the north wall. In the morning they would be found on the floor. The caretaker would put them back on the wall but again in the morning they would be found on the floor. (The museum has items hanging on their north wall and have not had any problems with anyone taking them down.)
It is also known that a young boy accidentally killed himself with his father’s hand gun in the building.
Unexplained sounds, ghostly footsteps and other unexplained phenomenon have been reported. Two paranormal research teams have visited the Acadia. One reported that they believe that there are at least two spirits in the building and possibly three. Another group, Beyond-Paranormal Research Collective visited in late September. They have not sent the museum Governing Board a report as they are still reviewing their data.
Other places in Oracle that have reported paranormal phenomenon are the Mountain View Hotel (now the Oracle Baptist Church) and Don Juan’s Tavern.